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Still Waters

Upside down houses for the dead at Maeshowe

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Still Waters

New archaeological research by the University of the Highlands and Islands at the Stone Age tomb, Maeshowe located within the Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, has found its side chambers are stylistically upside-down from the main chamber, and therefore proposes they were built as inverted netherworlds specifically for the dead to enter the afterlife.

The research investigation led by Jay van der Reijden, a Masters by Research student at the university's Archaeology Institute, studies the communally-built dry-stone tombs, referred to as 'houses for the dead' given the similar layout to domestic houses. Her work shows the side chambers of Maeshowe have literally been built for the dead by inverting their architectural designs, as though the chamber is within the underworld.


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